Article # two: The True Vine
J E S U S : I am the true vine. (John 15:1)
When our Lord calls himself “the true vine,” he alludes to the actuality there are vines, spiritual vines, of another sort. The pharisees would be in this category.
Attached to the pharisees were most. Their invitation extended to the people was the same as Christ’s, “Abide in (us).” Like Jesus, they wanted the people to be nourished from their vine alone. They were jealous for their affection, reverence, loyalty and money. Unlike Jesus, they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Because both wanted them the two vines clashed. The war for the allegiance of the branches began immediately after Christ’s forty-day fast in the wilderness. They debated publicly and Jesus won, so the religious leaders reached into their bag of dirty tricks and soon their competition was nailed to a cross. Three days after the cross they realized the war was only beginning.
A. W. T o z e r : A natural but carnal desire on the part of a gifted minority (is) to bring the less gifted majority to heel and get them to where they will not stand in the way of their soaring ambitions. (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
Not much has changed. There is still a battle between “the true vine” and the false.
Not everyone in North America is attached to a spiritual vine. Some simply do not give spiritual matters much concern. But many do, and all that do attach themselves to a spiritual vine, and of those most are not connected to “the true vine.” Many are attached to a cult vine, a new age vine, a works vine, a false religion vine. We are interested in evangelicals and will turn our attention to the evangelical vine.
One could use many words to define evangelicalism. Perhaps it’s suffice to define evangelicalism as: A mixture. Or: Christ, plus, plus,plus.
Evangelicalism is a mixture. (Adversely, pharisaism is not a mixture.) Evangelicalism contains in part – embraces somewhat – Jesus Christ. (Pharisaism rejects Christ.) Evangelicalism is attached to both “the true vine” AND a false vine, the false being the collective traditions and dictates of men. Being attached to evangelicalism is being attached to both “the true vine” AND a false vine.
J E S U S : He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. (John 14:21)
The test of love is obedience. Obedience not only tells us who we love but who we abide in. Evangelicals obey the words of Christ AND the words of men. Can you see why evangelicalism has both good fruit and bad?
A story: Several years ago a brother in Christ was saying he tithed to his ‘home’ church. I pleaded with him to reconsider, there is more fruitful ways of directing his givings, most of his tithes would be consumed by building expenses and salaries, he could invest in work in third world countries thus multiplying the effect of his contributions. He refused to heed. Had he invested those thousands of dollars more wisely, more in keeping to the heart of Jesus, multitudes would have escaped that horrid place Jesus warned us about and instead lived in eternal joy with Jesus and the Father.
Question: Who does this brother abide in? My answer would be both Christ and man. If you find this confusing, it gets more complicated yet. Another story:
A brother in Christ wants out of evangelicalism, but his wife has no intention of leaving. So he stays. While seeking understanding in this matter, the Lord gave me three words: Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve? I inquired. And then came the understanding. Adam loved God and Adam loved Eve. When tested he chose his wife over God, just like this brother chose his wife over the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This evangelical is attached to the vine of Christ AND the vine of evangelicalism AND the vine of his wife.
Evangelicals are attached to more than one vine, perhaps several. All other vines are idols. If evangelicals were attached only, or at least primarily, to “the true vine” this series of articles would not be written (and this website not created). Evangelicalism is one of many, to quote myself (above, first paragraph), “spiritual vines of another sort.” That’s the problem, and all problems are rooted in that problem.
Though Jesus is the only true vine, He is one of many. Obedience to His commandments is proof of abiding. Faithfulness is abiding in Him alone. Personal revival will begin when one renounces all other vines, all other lords.
It is okay to challenge all who claim authority and special status. More, it is dutiful. What one refuses to bring under the light of Scripture is an idol.
A. W. T o z e r : To love God is to love truth. (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
C h a l l e n g e : Ask yourself some hard questions: “In whom am I abiding? Who am I obeying? Who has my allegiance?” Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (And God bless you!)
P r a y e r : Triune God, help us! Holy Spirit, Your anointing. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)